South Lake Tahoe softball brawl involving police eyed

A South Lake Tahoe league softball game that involved off-duty officers turned into a bench-clearing melee in which one man was punched in the face.

The fight happened in the bottom of the first inning at the South Tahoe Middle School softball fields last week and was witnessed by more than a dozen people.

The D-League softball game involved members of The Village Mountain Surf and Sports softball team and off-duty officers from the South Lake Tahoe Police Department, civilians and an off-duty Tahoe Douglas firefighter.

The altercation is under investigation by authorities after Village player Frank DeBartolo, 40, of Stateline said he was hit five times in the face by Chris Kynett, a Tahoe Douglas firefighter and a member of the police department's team.

DeBartolo said he was restrained by members of the department's team when Kynett allegedly punched him in the face five times. DeBartolo sustained several bruises and a contusion to the left eye, South Lake Tahoe police confirmed.

At least one witness said DeBartolo rushed the field when the melee broke out and was verbally confrontational with opposing team members before he was hit by Kynett.

DeBartolo insists he was intervening before it escalated into a fight.

"All I was trying to do was break it up when I got chickened-winged, put in a headlock, and hit," DeBartolo said.

Police Chief Don Muren confirmed Friday that DeBartolo had made a criminal complaint and that the case is under investigation.

"We will have a lot of people to interview, and that's where we will begin," Muren said.

DeBartolo complained of head and neck pain and said he went to the hospital Sunday, four days after the incident, to have himself checked.

"I will be out of work for at least two weeks," he said.

The confrontation occurred following a hit at bat in which witnesses said Brad White of the Village team slid into third base to avoid colliding with the police department team's third baseman.

During the play, the two men's legs became entangled. When White attempted to get up, the third basemen allegedly pushed him twice to the ground.

On the second push, members of the Village team rushed the field from the dugouts, while members of the police department's team moved to calm the confrontation at the base and remove the two players.

Umpire Scott Shehadi ordered the game suspended, saying he saw punches thrown by members from both teams. On Friday, softball league officials kicked two men out of the softball program - Kynett and a Village left fielder whom manager Russell declined to name.

The investigation's findings will be submitted to the El Dorado County District Attorney's office for review, South Lake Tahoe Police Lt. Martin Hewlett said Friday.


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